June 15, 2018

Overcoming the Conflict between Safety and Production: Part 5 – Enabling Contractors to Delive

One of the most satisfying scopes of work that I’ve led involved a major seismic survey on a mine site. Australian mines are generally tightly managed from a safety perspective with the expectations that the Principal (Mine Holder), Contractors and Sub-Contractors will work to the mine’s safety management system.

However, given that the Contractor, HiSeis, is highly specialized, to impose the mine’s safety management system (SMS) would have been counter-productive to effective risk management. The following video will give the reader a sense of the risks involved:

Watch the video here >

The survey footprint was significant and included parts of the active mining area, ore and waste stockpiles, internal roads, vegetation stockpiles and undisturbed bushland.
There were numerous factors that led to this scope, worth around $1.5M, being successful in terms of production/schedule, quality and HSE incident mitigation. The Critical Success Factors were:
1. Trust: From the outset, HiSeis was treated as a partner in the execution of this scope of work. The traditional Principal-Contractors (Parent-Child) approach still commonly seen in industry, was replaced with a mindset of enabling the Contractor to deliver.
2. Stakeholder Engagement: Representatives from all parties who would be impacted by the scope of work and whose activities could impact the seismic survey were brought into the room. This included managers and supervisors responsible for the Active Mining Area, Drilling and Blasting, Production Scheduling, the Contract Owners and the Contractors.
3. Risk Assessment: Stakeholders participated in a risk workshop that focused on how the work could be done safely, to the required quality and productively ie a multi-disciplinary, multi-objective approach not just ‘safety’. In addition, inspections were undertaken of the proposed work areas to identify potential issues such as access to the tops of stockpiles and the interface with active mining. The risks and required controls were captured in a scope of work risk register.
4. Planning and Communication: I put together the HSE Management Plan for the scope of work which clearly explained the required risk mitigations and communication practices. Importantly, it also explained the boundaries of accountability between the Mine Holder, the Contract Owner, and the Contractor. The plan was reviewed and fine-tuned with the input of all stakeholders.
5. Execution: We worked to the plan. A critical piece was agreement by all parties that HiSeis would be given authority over the area in which there were working to a radius of 50meterss. This was the case for all the survey footprint except in the active mining area, which needed to remain under control of Mine Production because of high risks including heavy mobile plant and drilling and blasting activities. This approach enabled HiSeis to work to their own SMS whilst interfaces outside their active work area were managed by the Mine Operator and Contract Owner.
Trevor Donaldson, Operations Manager of HiSeis, explains:
“From the outset I understood that the client was very proactive in establishing trust in HiSeis and respected the wealth of seismic mining experience HiSeis has as an exploration contractor.
This enabled a collaborative approach to safety and helped to actually identify and manage the ‘real risks’ to the work program rather than perceived risks from solely the Mine Operator or Contractor.
The identification of these ‘real risk’ enabled the correct stakeholders to be engaged and provided a direct line of communication to these stakeholders if any complications/changes arose during the survey.
Further, with the client allowing HiSeis to operate under our own SMS for the majority of the survey, it enabled crews to operate under a familiar set of work policies without ‘big brother’ perceptions. This end result allowed the overall survey to be completed safely, expediently and incident free.”
The approach was fully-integrated ie the focus was on understanding ‘The Work’, not functionally splitting out safety from schedule or quality. Safety Managers rather than compartmentalizing themselves to the safety discipline, can provide Risk Leadership for internal stakeholders and contractors to achieve execution of work so that safety performance is an outcome along with other business objectives.
Principal Companies can enable their contractors to perform at their best. The key is effective risk management to pursue production, quality work and HSE incident mitigation concurrently, in a spirit of trust and partnership. The front-end investment in relationship, stakeholder engagement, risk assessment and good planning, lay the foundations for successful execution.

Tania Van der Stap, Founder and Principal Director of Align Risk Management
Tania Van der Stap is the Founder and Principal Director of Align Strategic Management Services Pty Ltd established in 2002, after having Productive Safety Management published internationally by Butterworth-Heinemann. The publication presents a strategic, multi-disciplinary management system for hazardous industries that ties safety and production together.

From 2002 to 2012, Tania provided HSE consulting services to Chevron’s Gorgon Project, Monadelphous, Baker Hughes, Fortescue Metals Group and Worley Parsons. Thereafter for 5 years, Tania took a HSE Manager’s role with AngloGold Ashanti Australia where she made significant improvements taking the department from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘proactive’ on the HSE journey.

In late 2016, her company was rebadged to Align Risk Management specialising in HSE Consulting and Risk Leadership Programs for managers, supervisors, HSE professionals and workers. Her chapter on ‘Risk Leadership – A Multi-Disciplinary Approach’ has been accepted by the American Society of Safety Professionals and will be published in Safety Leadership and Professional Development ahead of the ASSP’s 2018 Safety Conference.

In addition to Productive Safety Management being a substantial, refereed publication, Tania’s credentials include academic qualifications in Commerce and also Public Health and Safety.

Follow Tania on LinkedIn >

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